Lately it feels like a chapter of our family life has closed and we are preparing for a new one. This week J finished Tumble Tots, and Wednesday he finishes Nursery. It feels like that is the end of where I feel I am still part of his ‘academic life’. We spent time together having adventures over the years (at Tumble Tots, Sensory groups, forest toddler group, children’s centre etc), I took him into Nursery so could see what he liked to play with, see displays etc. In September there’s no more clubs to go to together. I drop him off in the playground and pick him up from the playground for Reception. Obviously, I know I am sounding dramatic. I will get to go to parent days, having meetings with his teacher and see what he’s up to online…but it’s not quite the same. I guess I thought this might be a good time to reflect on where this blog is going, and where it came from.
So, here is our story…
My husband and I met 15 years ago as 20 something year olds. We had a bit of drama getting together as it caused a rift in our friendship group, but we got through all that and eventually moved in together, got married (10 years this year) and decided we were ready for family life. So, I came off the pill and expected to be pregnant the next month. However, our sex ed class lied to me…or maybe it just bent the truth. Sex without protection does not create a baby…sex without protection and the right timing and just a little luck is all involved. It took a couple of years, but we finally fell pregnant with J.
At the time I was working as an Early Years Professional (an ‘early years teacher’ basically) and Special Educational Needs Coordinator. I loved my job, and the children and families loved me being pregnant. I was the lucky Buddha whose belly you rubbed when going in and out the door. They had even arranged a mini baby shower surprise for me…but I surprised them by having to go in for induction a week early. J was born and I felt every emotion there was. I had a rough time in the hospital, and it did affect my bonding with J. I loved him, there was no doubt about that, but it took a couple of weeks before I held him and thought “OMG-you are my everything”. I blame the hospital and how badly I was treated by a lot of other staff (but that’s another story). I returned to work after 9 months but only part time. Then when J was older, he came with me to work so I increased my hours. J was like the little brother of everyone at preschool. He was spoilt rotten by everyone and the children gave into his every whim. He loved it.
It was around this time we decided to expand our family. We had always wanted two children so when I fell pregnant a few months later I was so excited. I ordered big bro t-shirt for J to wear to surprise everyone. However, it was not meant to be, and we had an early miscarriage. It was heart wrenching. Not long after, my Grandma’s dementia reached a level where she needed full time care. My Mum, who owned the preschool, offered it to me. I had to say no. Where work was once my life, now I had another reason for being, and I didn’t have time to fit teaching, mummy-ing and ownership responsibility in. So, the preschool was closed. For the first time since I was 14, I didn’t have a job. However, it was a blessing in disguise.
Around age 1 I had begun to have my suspicions that J was autistic. There was just something about the way he was that reminded me of the case studies I read at uni, the families I had worked with over the years (not just at preschool but in the years in my summer job at an SEN summer scheme as well). By the time preschool closed J was already in speech therapy and diagnosed with social-communication disorder. We were on the pathway which meant I had appointments, therapy sessions, meetings plus J took a lot of time and support at home. Back then J was a challenging child (in many ways he still is but we have lots more in place now). There was no way someone would employ me with all the time off I’d need, and I had no one who could have J. I couldn’t do evening work as husband worked nights. So, I made the decision to be a ‘stay at home mum’. I threw myself into ‘home learning’. We did a lot of trips out, learning from home, playing together. I was determined to build on what he was doing in therapy and to try and get him out of the bubble he was in.
It was around this time I decided to really get going with this blog. I missed working with families and supporting children. I missed sharing my knowledge with the staff and leading training sessions. I also felt a bit lost. Writing had always been something I enjoyed so I thought ‘why not’. I had never done anything like this before and wasn’t sure what I was doing (As you can tell if you’ve read my earlier stuff). I wrote about J’s speech therapy, about the assessment process, I shared ideas for using PECS and Makaton. Then in 2017 J got his diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
So, I wrote about how this affected us, how we still managed to live day to day life, days out that worked for us etc. I figured that even if no one read my ramblings, at least I was processing my thoughts and feelings. It felt good to get them down on virtual paper. Then I started to get messages from people saying I had made them feel less alone, given them the confidence to start the diagnosis process, seek help etc. I realised that sharing our life, our ups and downs was actually helping people.
I started to branch out to early years play ideas, theme ideas, how to support children in various situation. It stopped being solely about autism and additional needs and become more of a diary. It showed our life…our families journey. Yes, autism does affect our lives everyday BUT it’s not a death sentence. I wanted to branch out and show positivity. It’s not all doom and gloom…there’s hope that once you have systems in place that you can have a lot of fun as a family.
Then a year after our miscarriage I had two little lines appear on our ‘pee stick’…I retested several times and the lines just got stronger and stronger. I was an emotional wreck. I was excited but too scared to bond with the little bean. I was scared to say the word ‘baby’ in case it was all taken away. However, the weeks went by and after a few scares my bump was getting bigger and things were feeling real. The blog then expanded to include pregnancy, and how to deal with pregnancy with a chid with additional needs.
Following in his brothers’ footsteps Baby F was a week early. He decided to start on the Wednesday and then stop again on the Thursday, so I was the induced by hormone drip and he came just after midnight on the Friday. It was a totally different experience to J’s. It was ‘easier’ (if there is such a thing) and less complications. The staff were totally different and the after care was a lot better. I left feeling positive and ready for life with two children. The first couple of weeks were hard…really hard and several times I thought ‘what have I done?’. J was struggling with it all. He struggled with the change in routine, the noise and smell (and sight of poop) and having to wait and share attention. I had stitches in my lady parts, and it was uncomfortable, and I was tired. Understandably blogging stopped. I found it easier to just post on social media. I could do that on my phone whilst making feeds up, or whilst Baby F was asleep on me and when J was having iPad time. I prepped a lot of my posts in the early hours to post at a more sociable hour.
But I felt like something was missing. I missed blogging. I missed getting my thoughts down on that virtual notepad. My blog had become almost like a diary. I often read back through old posts to see just how far we have come. So now I am slowly getting back into writing. I have at least 10 drafts that are just waiting for me to have chance to edit, check links and photos. Now that I am Mummy to two, I think it’s time to update my blog. It’s time to make it more about family life so will be looking for a new logo shortly. It’s about Autism, parenting, adventures and living our life, Not everyday will be sunny but it’s going to be a place of positivity, with realism and honesty.
I am Mummy Est.2014 and this is our story…